A return to Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo has been a romantic and popular narrative almost from the moment he left for Real Madrid.
With the Portuguese skipper expressing his desire to leave the Spanish capital following allegations of tax evasion, the path back to Manchester has been paved yet again.
The unpredictable nature of the transfer window means that the move could well come to fruition (finally) and it definitely has a now-or-never feel to it.
However, there’s also plenty to suggest that the switch wouldn’t be in the best interests of both parties.
Here’s seven reasons why a return to Manchester for CR7 shouldn’t be on the cards.
COULD TARNISH HIS OLD TRAFFORD LEGACY
From 2006 to 2009, Ronaldo delivered three years of magical performances in a United shirt. He quickly assumed legendary status among the Old Trafford faithful with the stadium seemly holding its collective breath every time the Portuguese began striding forward with the ball.
If he were to return now, he simply wouldn’t be the player who thrilled spectators with his quick feet and outrageous flair.
He’s still a goal-scoring machine but he needs a thriving supply line to flourish and wouldn’t retain the kind of aura he previously enjoyed.
The fact that he left the club when he had the world at his feet has always left United fans enamoured with the idea of what could have been.
It’s that fantasy which keeps Ronaldo on a pedestal in the hearts and minds of the Old Trafford faithful. He couldn’t possibly live up to the standards he’s been elevated to on his return.
He’d be better served staying away from the red half of Manchester and preserving his reputation. Always leave them wanting more.
Ronaldo' United debut. Doubt anyone in OT could stay seated when he got the ball. Now on his way to 5th Ballon d'Or?pic.twitter.com/D3eZs0vYfP— Brendon Netto (@BrendonNetto) June 7, 2017
AGE IS CATCHING UP
The consistency with which Ronaldo has performed at the peak of his powers for the last 10 years is phenomenal. But it’s fair to say that he’s entering the final stretch of his career.
His influence at Madrid is already starting to wane and he’s not going to play 55 games a season anymore.
It also reflects poorly on United if they were to bend over backwards for a player who left them in his prime, achieved all that he could in the game, and then returned expecting the red carpet treatment during the onset of his gradual decline.
If united were spending £100m + on a player I'd rather it was Mbappe as he is just over half Ronaldo's age.— BoyWonderRashford 🐝 (@RedRashford19) June 18, 2017
BREAKING THE BANK
Ronaldo’s buyout clause? It’s a cool €1 billion. Of course, the asking price is nowhere near that figure but even the €130-140 million range being quoted is extremely steep for a player whose inevitable decline is fast approaching.
United are well known for their deep pockets but even they would struggle to justify paying that fee for a 32-year-old on top of what will surely be exorbitant wages.
You can’t help but think that the money could be better spent on two or three excellent players or even one Kylian Mbappe whose full marketing potential is yet to be exploited.
Financially, Cristiano Ronaldo would be a nightmare to sign. Fee would be £100m - £150m and wage would be 350k - 400k no doubt.— La Carné (@FutbolSully) June 16, 2017
THE JOSE MOURINHO FACTOR
It’s a rather poorly kept secret that Jose Mourinho doesn’t get along entirely with Ronaldo and vice-versa which on the surface seems odd given that they’re the biggest names in Portuguese football over the last 15 years.
However, given the tacticians specific demands of his players and his emphasis on discipline and team work, it’s not entirely surprising that a star as big as Ronaldo wouldn’t have adhered to every instruction.
Mourinho’s tactics demand complete commitment to the cause and while the forward is a model professional in terms of his dedication to perform at his optimum levels, that can come in the way of doing a job for the team.
During his spell at Madrid, Mourinho grudgingly accepted Ronaldo’s role and set up the team to accommodate his ability in and around the penalty box.
Rumour has it that one of the reasons the former Manchester United No7 remained at the Bernabeu the last time he threatened to leave was because Mourinho was on his way out.
That’s not to say that the two are beyond working together but their relationship hasn’t been without incident and would be cause for consideration.
NOT WHAT UNITED NEED
You may be wondering how is it that someone who scores the amount of goals that Ronaldo does isn’t needed at a side that has struggled to find the back of the net all last season.
But while he guarantees goals, he remains a luxury signing, capable of putting the finishing touches on an already fine-tuned team.
United however are far from being a fully functional unit. What they need at the moment are world class players, yes, but ones that will fit into and contribute to Mourinho’s tactics and set-up.
Ronaldo has never been that player, requiring teams to adjust to play to his strengths rather than the other way around.
As ludicrous as it sounds, at this moment in time, United would be much better served with Ivan Perisic on the left wing and Alvaro Morata up front rather than have a player, possibly on his way to a fifth Ballon d’Or, fill either of those positions.
MADRID WILL DO EVERYTHING TO HOLD ON
It’s no secret that Ronaldo’s influence on Madrid’s play is diminishing. He’s still a central figure at the end of moves but is rarely involved in the build-up.
He’s re-invented himself as a lethal finisher and the plethora of creative players around him serve him well.
However, the club are under no illusions. He’s still the man getting the goals and he’s still their most marketable asset.
The consistency of scoring a minimum of 40 goals a season is reason enough to be held in such high regard but Ronaldo is so much more than that.
He’s a brand like no other. Off the pitch at least and in a commercial sense, Lionel Messi will always lie in his wake.
With all due respect to Ligue 1, it doesn’t boast the kind of intensity and competitiveness that’s abundant in the Premier League.
But that could work in Ronaldo’s favour. He can keep plugging away, scoring goal after goal, without having to operate in top gear whilst saving his best for the Champions League.
The European trophy continues to elude PSG who see Ronaldo as the perfect talisman to secure a first triumph for them and his fifth.
The French Football Federation try to afford Champions League competing sides enough time to prepare, scheduling their games on Friday when they have midweek European commitments.
The Ligue 1 giants also remain one of the few clubs capable of affording the Real Madrid superstar while Paris is home to a substantial Portuguese demographic – Cristiano would quite simply be king.
It’s surely no coincidence as well that PSG pulled out of the deal to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the day before the news of Ronaldo’s desire to leave Madrid broke.